The Yankees have gotten some positive contributions from their farm system in the last few weeks. Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin have all looked good so far, leading us to believe the team’s offense is in good hands. Unfortunately, things don’t look as bright when it comes to the pitching, and now with Nathan Eovaldi’s injury, it’s becoming clear that the Yankees will need to make a trade for pitching very soon.
Even though Eovaldi hasn’t been the most reliable pitcher, he still offered a cheap option with potential who could fill out the middle of the rotation. Starting pitching already looked thin with Luis Severino’s disaster season, but the loss of Eovaldi for the entire 2017 season (which seems likely) gives the Yankees three big league pitchers to work with next year.
Despite all the new players the team brought in this month, their top 10 prospects only include three pitchers. Justus Sheffield and Domingo Acevedo have a few more years to go, and James Kaprielian’s injury leaves his big league ETA a mystery. The Yankees have guys like Brady Lail, Jordan Montgomery, and Dietrich Enns as options, but none of them are the kind of prospects that you hand a role to. In the end, they might not be much better than Chad Green and Luis Cessa (who still have value, but don’t save a rotation).
In this situation, it’s clear that the Yankees will need to look outside the organization to stabilize the rotation. The open market is completely barren this offseason, making it that much more infuriating that Hal Steinbrenner refused to pursue the likes of Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, or David Price (even with his struggles). Jeremy Hellickson might be their best option if they sign a pitcher. They were already going to be without a rotation after 2017 when everyone is eligible for free agency, but the loss of Eovaldi is accelerating that issue.
This is where a trade makes sense. The Yankees will need to add another starting pitcher before next spring training becomes a free-for-all competition between Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Severino, Cessa, Green, Lail, Montgomery, Enns, and whoever else they can scrape up off the floor. The organization has a gluttony of players that could be used to secure a necessary asset.
With the rise of Gary Sanchez, the Yankees might deem Brian McCann as superfluous and maybe they use him to acquire some kind of pitching. McCann is still offering a league-average bat, and an American League team could probably give him some time at DH to keep him fresh. He is still owed $51 million over the next three seasons with a $15 million vesting option, so the Yankees will need to eat some money, but a team like the Indians could show interest.
Brett Gardner could also be on the way out the door now that Aaron Judge is here and Clint Frazier isn’t that far behind. With the state of the free agent market this offseason, there would have to be a team willing to add a league-average bat with solid defense signed to a below-market deal for the next 3-4 years. He received no interest at the deadline, but things can change quickly in baseball.
There could even be a taker for someone like Aaron Hicks, if they think they can unlock his potential in exchange for another project starter. He’s extremely cheap, so it could be worth a shot.
There are also times where it makes sense to trade prospects if it means getting back top talent. The system’s middle infield picture is looking particularly crowded after the acquisition of Gleyber Torres, so Jorge Mateo could be deemed expendable if it means getting what they really need at the major league level. If Tyler Austin continues to hit, he could become a trade piece with Greg Bird due back next year. Regardless, the point is that they now have options and are overflowing with enough talent where they can add legitimate talent, even if there is no one to sign.
Chris Sale makes a lot of sense for everyone involved. The Yankees need someone to anchor the rotation down alongside Masahiro Tanaka, there were reports that the idea of rebuilding is at least being spoken about in the White Sox front office, and Chris Sale would probably be happy with a change of scenery. A trade for Sale would be extremely expensive, since he’s under contract for another three years, but it might be a trade worth making.
Obviously, nothing is happening now, but it’s clear that they will need help next year. This coming offseason was always going to be an interesting one because the Yankees have money coming off the books, but nowhere to really spend it. Aside from adding another reliever, the trade market will have to be their focus. Get ready.